26 February 2018

10 tips to reduce your carbon footprint

  • As concerns about climate change grow, environmental issues and sustainability are increasingly hot topics. But at Newcross, we've been doing our bit for the planet for over twenty years... and we're not shy about spreading the word! 

    Today, Newcross has a number of accreditations to acknowledge how we're reducing our impact on the natural world, including Carbon Neutral status. Operating an effective environmental management policy has also enabled us to achieve the International Standard in Environmental Management, the ISO 14001 award. In addition to establishing green services and policies, we also have a commitment to informing staff and clients about 'best practice'.  

    So, if you want to help make the difference, here are a few simple steps to help protect our environment and potentially save money too.

    Make your commute green

    1. Walk or cycle to work. Failing that public transport is best.

    2. If your shift is off the beaten track and need to drive, try carpooling with a colleague, partner or neighbour to reduce vehicle emissions.

    Reduce physical waste 

    3. Send communications by email when and where you can.

    4. Review and share documents online, don't print them.

    5. Think before you print. When you do print, go double-sided. If you print something that is one sided and no longer need it, can you turn the reserve side into a note pad.

    6. Properly recycle computer equipment, mobile phones and ink cartridges.

    Reduce energy consumption

    7. Turn down the heat. Decreasing the temperature in your home or workplace by just 1 degree Celsius in the summer can save up to 10% on your energy bill.

    8. Open your blinds. Natural lighting improves productivity and wellbeing. It also reduces the need for artificial lighting, which saves energy.

    9. Shut down your computer when you leave for the day and turn off your monitor.

    10. Make the most of the recycling and composting services.

26 February 2018

Generation Fat

  • Millennials are on track to be the fattest generation since records began. With the ever-increasing ease of takeaway food through apps and “sausage roll shops” seemingly springing up on every corner there is no surprise that Britain is the most obese nation in Western Europe, with rates rising faster than in any other developed nation. New studies have revealed a daunting fact that 7 in 10 millennials that is people born between the early 1980’s to mid-1990’s will be obese by the time they reach middle age.

    Obesity prevalence has been increasing in the UK, from 15% in 1993 to 27% in 2015. The highest obesity levels in 2015 were seen in people aged 55 to 64, but experts are concerned that younger generations are on track to become fatter still. “This poses a real danger as being overweight becomes ever increasingly normalised, many people struggle to recognise obesity in themselves, and often are unable to see when their child is overweight.” Prof Russell Viner Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

    Surely a little bit of extra weight isn’t that bad?

    "Extra body fat doesn't just sit there; it sends messages around the body that can cause damage to cells… This damage can build up over time and increase the risk of cancer in the same way that damage from smoking causes cancer” Professor Linda Bauld.

    Being overweight as an adult is linked to 13 different types of cancer, the list includes breast, bowel and kidney cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, only 15% of people in the UK are aware of the link between excess body fat and cancer.

    Obese people often have increased blood levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). (This condition, known as hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance, precedes the development of type 2 diabetes.) High levels of insulin and IGF-1 may promote the development of colon, kidney, prostate, and endometrial cancers

    Fat tissue (adipose tissue) can produce excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with increased risks of breast, endometrial, ovarian, and some other cancers.

    The dangerous link between obesity and cancer needs to be further recognised in the same light that smoking and cancer is. Knowledge of the links between cancer and smoking have driven smoking rates down dramatically amongst younger generations, this same knowledge could do the same.

    Yet this is an issue that has the potential to be easily be resolved, simply with a balanced diet and regular exercise. This doesn’t have to be running a marathon, yet can simply be a change of habits, swapping crisps for fruit or raw vegetables, cutting sugar from your tea or coffee and keeping yourself moving, go for a walk and keep up your step count, or short burst of regular exercise.

    These small changes in your daily life could greatly improve your health in the short term and work wonders in the long term keeping you fit and healthy, and helping to decrease your risk of developing several cancers.



    Cancer Research UK

    National Cancer Institute

    BBC news

Millennials are on track to be the fattest generation since records began
08 February 2018

Have you got the minerals?

  • With the shocking revelation that 70% of adults aged 19-64 in the UK are failing to meet the 5-a-day recommendation of fruit and veg, we have produced our easy guide to keep up with our green fingered friends to stay as fit as a fiddle.

70% of adults don't eat 5 a day
06 February 2018

Incredible women leaving their mark on history

  • With 79% of our employees female and a majority female board, at Newcross it is hard to imagine a society where women were not equals. But today marks 100 years since women were given the right to vote.

    The Representation of the People Act 1918 enabled 8.4 million women to vote, however this was only 40% of women. It wasn’t until 10 years later, in 1928, when all women over the age of 21 were allowed to vote.

    Thousands of brave women, including the three Pankhurst’s, Emmeline and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, put their lives and freedom at risk to fight for the right to vote and today we celebrate their incredible struggle to get the vote. To recognise this impressive achievement we are taking a look at two women who well and truly left their mark on healthcare history.

    Florence Nightingale [1820-1910]

    The founder of modern nursing, Florence went against everything and everyone to fulfil her dream to become a nurse. During the 1800s hospitals were dirty and operations were completed without anaesthetic, most people who went to hospital ended up dying. In 1951 Florence studied to nursing and decided then that it was her calling.

    Florence was asked to lead a team of nurses to support British soldiers in the Crimean War.  But when she arrived the hospital was overcrowded, dirty and patients ate gone off food - nothing was clean.

    “It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm.” 

    Working 20 hours a day, Florence bought fresh food, cleaned kitchens, cleared drains and helped to stop the spread of disease. She became known as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’, as she used to walk around at night to make sure the soldiers were comfortable.

    “She is a "ministering angel" without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.”

    Welcomed home a hero, Florence’s work throughout the Crimean War transformed modern nursing, improving the quality of care given in war and impacting healthcare practices around the world. This is reflected throughout Newcross, from our nurse-led Complex Care team to our Clinical Governance Nurse Advisors. Expertise and quality is at our core.

    [There have been conflicting accounts regarding Florence Nightingale's nursing, we'd love to hear your view on her and her work, drop us an email at communications@newcrosshealthcare.com]

    Marie Curie [1897-1934]

    Another strong and determined woman was Marie Curie, remembered for her contribution to the fight against cancer, Marie’s work on radioactivity was driven by her endless thirst for knowledge.

    After meeting her husband, Pierre in France, together they made discoveries which earned them a Nobel Prize in 1903. Their work discovered radioactivity, through this it led them to discover polonium and radium. These chemical elements helped to develop radiotherapy which is used in x-rays.

    Sadly Pierre was killed after a street accident, but Marie’s determination and remarkable endeavours led to a second Nobel Prize in 1911, this time in chemistry for creating a means of measuring radioactivity. She was the first woman in history to win it. During the First World War, Marie developed small, mobile X-ray units that could be used to diagnose injuries near the front line.

    "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."

    Without women like Marie and Florence healthcare would not be where it is today, it is the determination and drive that enabled them to leave their mark on history. If you want to make an impact on people's lives join our Newcross team, where we help improve people's quality of life day in and day out.

30 January 2018

How close are we to an antibiotics armageddon?

  • The news is currently filled with dire warnings over the emergence of antibiotic-resistant diseases and the potential doomsday scenario of the world sliding towards a post-antibiotic era. Unfortunately, this is one of those media scare stories that has a very real chance of becoming a grim reality.

    November saw the launch of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Antibiotic Awareness Week, and for the first time ever the NHS has launched a nationwide television campaign urging people not to demand antibiotics from GPs. The overuse of such drugs has led to the evolution of diseases that are immune to the effects of antibiotics. If the trend continues, then we could end up with no effective defences against them.

    What is an antibiotic-resistant disease?

    Nature has a habit of taking us by surprise, and in the case of antibiotic-resistant diseases, it is displaying evolution at breakneck speed. Antibiotic resistance occurs when the antibiotic drug loses its effectiveness to control or kill a bacteria due to it having developed immunity to the drug. In other words, these diseases are able to continue to multiply despite the presence of antibiotics.

    Can we prevent it?

    According to the World Health Organisation, antibiotic-resistant diseases are now one of the biggest global threats to health and warns that unless urgent action is taken to reduce the threat, we could soon enter a post-antibiotic era where common infections and injuries can kill. Already we see cases of resistant pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning and gonorrhoea. These relatively common infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat and in some cases are now impossible to cure. With the ease of international travel resistant diseases are spreading across the globe with relative ease and it will take effective government action to control it.

    Public Health England has recently launched a campaign called ‘Keep Antibiotics Working’ to raise awareness of the issue and is warning that in just 30 years’ time we could see antibiotic resistant diseases killing more people than cancer and diabetes combined.   

    What can you do?

    As individuals, we can each play our part in slowing the spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases.  To help prevent the spread you should;

    • Only use antibiotics that are prescribed by a healthcare professional such as your GP.
    • With the pressures of work, you may be tempted to demand antibiotics from your doctor to get over an illness quickly. Don’t. Coughs, earache and sore throats, will get better by themselves, and the overuse of antibiotics to treat such conditions means that the life-saving drugs may no longer work when they’re really needed. Your immune system can handle most common illnesses on its own, and most people don’t realise that antibiotics have no effect on viral infections.
    • You can prevent the spread of harmful infections by implementing good hygiene practices. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, practice safe sex, avoid contact with sick people if possible and ensure that your vaccinations are kept up to date.

    If you look back at history, you will find many instances of pandemics that have devastated entire civilisations and claimed millions of lives. From the Bubonic Plague to Spanish Flu, diseases that are currently treated with antibiotics could return with devastating effect.

    A Modern Warning

    In Madagascar, the populace is currently struggling to deal with an outbreak of the Pneumonic plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. (Otherwise known as the Black Death). According to experts on the ground, the disease has spread at an alarming rate. Since the first cases were reported in August, 100 people have died, and over 1000 people have been infected.

    Fortunately, the plague can be treated with powerful antibiotics but in 2007 scientists were alarmed by the discovery of a strain of the disease taken from a teenage boy in Madagascar that was resistant to eight antibiotics that are normally used to treat the infection.

    The warning signs are there. But we can take steps to help to prevent this. Next time you are feeling under the weather take a step back and think if you really need antibiotics from your GP.

04 January 2018

Health Tech: Defibrillators

  • As healthcare professional you come into contact with many pieces of equipment but did you know that many of these devices have fascinating origins? In this series, we take a look at some of the technologies that have revolutionised health care. In this edition, we focus on Defibrillators.

    A Brief History

    Early Defibrillators were invented in the 1930s by electrical engineer William Kouwenhoven and could only provide defibrillation (the process of using a controlled electrical shock to restore a hearts natural rhythm) via direct contact with the heart via surgery. As time went on the process was improved to the point where the need for surgery was no longer required. Portable Defibrillators were invented by Northern Ireland physician and cardiologist Frank Pantridge.

    Today, many public buildings have a Defibrillator on site in the event of someone suffering a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), and some campaigners are calling for their use to become as common as fire extinguishers. With statistics showing that up to 30,000 SCAs occur outside of a hospital environment (80% of these occur at home, 20% occur in public places) every year, the wider distribution of Defibrillators has saved the lives of many people.

    When someone suffers from a cardiac arrest, their heart can fall into an erratic rhythm called fibrillation. This causes the heart to suddenly stop and prevents blood from being pumped around the body. Unless CPR and a defibrillator are used as soon as possible a cardiac arrest will result in death.

    Simon says: What to do if someone suffers a cardiac arrest? 

    Clinical Training Team Leader Simon Smart provides lifesaving advice.

    Call for help - If someone is breathing erratically or not breathing at all the first thing you should do is call 999 for an ambulance.

    Stay - Do not leave the person in order to find help.

    Perform CPR - If you know CPR do it, if not the operator on the phone will talk you through the process. Get help from any passers-by and tell them to try and find a defibrillator.

    Get someone to find a Defibrillator - If a Defibrillator is used and effective CPR is performed within 3-5 minutes of cardiac arrest, the chance of survival increases from 6% to 74%. Most shopping centres, train stations and other public buildings now have Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on the premises.  

    Use the Defibrillator – If a Defibrillator is available, use it. Many public buildings now contain one. AEDs are very easy to use and are now designed so that anyone can use and most also give automated instructions to the user.

    When it comes to saving someone who is suffering from a cardiac arrest the importance of speed and the use of defibrillators cannot be underestimated.

    Did you know?

    • When someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 7-10%.
    • 12 people under the age of 35 die each week from sudden cardiac arrest.
    • Around 270 children die from sudden cardiac arrest suffered on school premises each year.
04 January 2018

Medicines discovered by accident: Penicillin

  • Many of humanity’s greatest discoveries occurred as a result of either accidents or sheer luck. Probably one of the most important discoveries was Penicillin, the first antibiotic that has helped to save countless lives from bacterial infections.

    For many years people wondered why the Ancient Egyptians used to apply poultices of mouldy bread to infected wounds and amazingly it wasn’t until 1928 that the answer to that age-old question was answered.

    Alexander Fleming was a scientist working at St. Mary’s College London investigating influenza a major killer in his day. In 1918-19 million perished as a result of Spanish Flu. It wasn’t until he returned to work from a holiday in September 1928 that he noticed something odd. Whilst sorting through Petri dishes in his lab he noticed that one containing colonies of Staphylococcus, a rather unpleasant bacteria that cause sore throats and boils was different to the others. In the dish, there was a spot where mould was growing, and in the immediate area around the mould, the bacteria could not grow. A speck of matter had contaminated the dish to form a rare strain of Penicillium notatum. The area around it was clear suggesting that the mould had secreted something that could kill the bacteria.

    Fleming went on to experiment with ‘mould juice’ and discovered that it could kill a large number of bacteria’s that were hazardous to human health. His next task was to isolate pure penicillin from the mould secretions.

    It wasn’t until 1939 that Howard Florey, Ernst Chain and their colleagues at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University turned penicillin into a life-saving drug. With World War Two underway the need for penicillin increased dramatically, and it went on to save the lives of many wounded soldiers.


    Antibiotic Resistance

    The battle to stay ahead of evolving bacteria is one that we are currently losing. Too much use of antibiotics in the farming sector and oversubscription by GPs had resulted in the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria. If new antibiotics are not created soon then, we may be heading back to a post-antibiotic future, one where bacterial infections can kill.

    The World Health Organisation has urged the use of the drugs to be curbed in farming and GPS to refrain from subscribing them unless absolutely necessary. Whether such action will slow the growing resistance of harmful bacteria’s to antibiotics remains to be seen.

    Did you know? It is useless to take antibiotics for a viral infection

04 January 2018

Healthcare Through Time | Part 2 - Ancient Greece

  • In the second part of our Healthcare through time series we go back 2,800 years to a time of myths, gods and the Ancient Greeks, the forefathers of modern western medicine.

    ‘A doctor is worth many men’ – Homer’s the Iliad

    Asclepius the God of Healing

    The Ancient Greeks revered healers so much that they had a god that represented medicine and healing. According to myth the god Asclepius was the son of Apollo and was taught the art of healing by the centaur Chiron. Asclepius was so effective at healing the sick that Zeus, the king of the gods feared that he might make humans immortal. As a result, Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt. Homer’s the Iliad, however, takes a less supernatural approach to Asclepius as it describes him as a highly skilled physician who served in the Trojan war.

    Today, the symbol of Asclepius is often used in the medical sector as it was he who wielded a staff with a serpent coiled around it. Asclepius staff is considered to be the only true symbol of medicine.

    Medical Advancements

    Unlike the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks did not solely believe that evil spirits were the cause of illness. They still believed in their gods, but over time science began to take over when trying to explain the reasons for and solutions to sickness. Through experimentation, Greek scholars developed several theories about sickness, the most famous of which was Humouris which referred to blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm. Consequently, poor health was deemed to be a consequence of an imbalance in these four Humours.

    Greek Physicians also believed that a patient’s environment played an important part in healthcare. They recognised that various diseases occurred in certain environments and realised the importance of a clean water supply and its influence on the health of the local populace.

    This is Sparta

    Greek physicians also developed advancements in surgery thanks to the warlike ways of the ancient Greek city-states. Wars between them were a regular occurrence, but no state was so feared as Sparta. A culture of warriors trained from birth, they recognised the need to keep their soldiers healthy and were some of the first peoples to establish a basic form of professional healthcare. With all of the fighting, Greek doctors learnt a lot about the human anatomy from wounded soldiers. Surgery on civilians, however, was rare due to the associated risks, but wounded warriors were deemed acceptable to operate on.


    We can’t talk about ancient Greek medicine without mentioning Hippocrates. He is often revered as the ‘father of modern medicine’ thanks to his contributions to the world of medicine and for founding one of the world’s first medical schools. A version of the Hippocratic oath is still in use to this day.  

    Five amazing facts

    • According to the writings of Plato and Hippocrates, ancient Greek doctors believed that a woman’s womb was a separate creature with a mind of its own.

    • Half of all ancient Greek children died before they reached the age of 10 and 1 out of 3 babies died before reaching 1 year of age.

    • Ancient Greek doctors were the first to realise the importance of the environment to a person’s health.
    • The Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of seventy early medical textbooks and inspired many medical practitioners throughout the ages. 
    • The physicians Herophilus and Erasistratus performed their experiments upon criminals given to them by the Ptolemaic kings. They dissected them whilst they were still alive!
04 January 2018

Makaton: The alternative Sign Language

  • Today over 100,000 people use Makaton as a method of communication, either to support their speech or as their main communication language. At Newcross Healthcare our Clinical Trainers, deliver Makaton training across the UK, since its introduction over 462 employees have been trained in Makaton, with courses running weekly.

    Developed by Margaret Walker MBE in the 1970s, Makaton became a means of communication for those who have cognitive impairments, autism, Down Syndrome, multisensory impairment and acquired neurological disorders. The language was developed by adding signs from British Sign Language to key words in speech so that the adults and children had a better understanding of language, and how to communicate.

    The early stages of Makaton only used speech and manual signs, it wasn’t until 1985 that graphic symbols were included in the language. Since 2007, Makaton has been a registered trade mark of the Makaton Charity and is featured on the BBC Cbeebies children’s television programme Singing Hands.

    The accessibility and popularity of Makaton makes it a very easy tool for our employees to use when communicating with the wide range of service users that we provide care for at Newcross. Employees can book a place onto our Speech, Signs and Symbols Makaton course, through their local branch, that teaches our staff 120 signs and symbols along with the alphabet.


    A brief history of Makaton:

    For many of us, Makaton has proven to be a hugely versatile and helpful means of communicating. It’s now a language that we actively promote across Newcross via local training courses.

    Of course, there are many different types of sign language which have evolved over the years and the history of signing dates back much further than you might imagine.

    5th Century BC - Socrates said, "If we hadn't a voice or a tongue, and wanted to express things to one another, wouldn't we try to make signs by moving our hands, head, and the rest of our body.”

    685AD - Archbishop of York John of Beverly was recorded as teaching a deaf person to speak it was seen as a miracle

    1500s - Italian mathematician called Geronimo Cardano identified that learning does not require the ability to hear and educated his deaf son by using written words.

    1600s - sign language was used for secret communications as well as for public speaking and interaction by the deaf.

    1760 - Thomas Braidwood opened ‘Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf and Dumb’ which is considered to be the first school in Britain to include sign language in education.

    1771 - Catholic priest called Abbe Charles Michel de L’Epee established the first free deaf school open to the public.

    1880 - Alexander Graham Bell was involved in the scheme of banning the use of sign language in at the Milan conference in 1880.

    1892 - Electrical Hearing Aid Invented

    1974 - Sign language was acknowledged as a language and officially named ‘British Sign Language’. Linguistics studying BSL agreed that it has grammar, structure and sign order.

    2003 - British Government recognises British Sign Language as a bona-fide language.

    2010 - the 21st International Congress on Education of the Deaf held in Vancouver formally apologised for the 1880 ruling citing that it accepted the damaging ramifications of the sign language ban.

    2017 onwards - Several new sign languages developed including forms such as Makaton. Today there are over 137 different forms of recognised sign language. Some have legal recognition whilst others have no status whatsoever.

    Did you know? There are an estimated 560 million people in the world with a hearing loss.

04 January 2018

The importance of a good night's sleep

  • As healthcare workers, it is vital that you get enough sleep. With care being needed 24-hours a day, you will likely be required to work a variety of shifts including nights which can be a challenge if you’ve not had a full eight hours.

    A lack of sleep can put not just yourself in danger but also the people in your care as being tired can lead to you making mistakes that can lead to injury. Sleeping on the job can lead to a disciplinary and/or dismissal, so it's in your interest to ensure you catch enough Zs.

    Mental Health

    We all spend a third of our lives in the land of nod and sleep is vital for staying healthy both mentally and physically. When we are asleep, it gives our mind and body a chance to digest the events of the day as well as supporting the immune system.

    According to studies, sleep deprivation negatively alters parts of the brain which can lead to you becoming irritable, have difficulty solving problems or making decisions and can result in depression. Sleep deprivation can also result in suicidal tendencies as well as a lack of self-awareness and increased risky behaviour.

    Physical Health

    Physically, a lack of sleep can lead to a wide range of health issues and can lead to strokes, heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. Sleep plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and heart. Sleep deficiency can alter the way in which your immune system operates and can leave you vulnerable to common infections and diseases. It can also lead you to perform poorly at work and could cause you to make mistakes that you otherwise would not.

    Microsleep is not a good thing!

    Just one to two days of poor sleep can lead to Microsleep which is moments of sleep that occur when you’re awake. Worryingly you cannot control it, and it might occur without you even being aware of it. If it occurs whilst your driving or other risky activity the consequences can be devastating.

    The top benefits of a good night’s sleep

    • Whilst asleep the brain undergoes a process known as ‘consolidation’ where it goes over everything you experienced during the day. This helps with memory and learning.

    • Studies show that those people who sleep well regularly have less inflammation in their limbs and a lower risk of suffering a heart attack.

    • A good night’s sleep sharpens your attention span and can improve your performance at work.

    Did you know? Sleep deficiency negatively impacts your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk.